Questions re: “Service Disruptions” on Long Distance Trains

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Cal

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Jan 23, 2021
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Having this many SWC trains running at one time raises the question as to how many train sets Amtrak has available for SWC service.
I assume the bare minimum dedicated to the Chief. I'm sure that one of the yards (maybe even both) had to make an extra consist due to the severe delays.
 

RebelRider

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Aug 20, 2018
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America's Railroad
It honestly depends on the train and where you are. For starters you can resupply water in many points and any good OBS person knows you always take water when the opportunity is presented as you never know when you will be able to add water again thanks to service disruptions. I always top off before leaving a station.

On the Silver Service I believe these are the stations you can take water. Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, Savannah, Florence, Richmond, Washington, and New York Sunnyside. There is no real excuse to run out of water on those trains.

A lot of your longer stops have hoses and facilities to water a car.
Watering is only available in the yard at Miami, not the station proper. The connections are there but out of service as they haven’t been tested in a long time.

No watering facilities are available at Tampa or Orlando unless it’s bottled water. 😁
 

danasgoodstuff

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Jun 23, 2021
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PDX
I'm insultipated by that remark. My wife and I used to BUY Dinty Moore for dinner years ago (like 40+).
Years ago it still had peas in it, IIRC, which made it much better. Now I add them myself. I was on a 10 hours late into Vancouver VIA Rail Canadian and everyone got a free proper sit down diner/supper. I think it happens often enough that they are prepared. Halifax to Van is like 5 days when it's on time!
 

Rasputin

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Jan 17, 2019
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978
Obviously things might have changed with the passage of time and sometimes things do change for the better but on our 2019 trip on the Lake Shore, if I had been offered Dinty Moore beef stew for breakfast in place of the then existing flex or contemporary (whichever the case it was) breakfast offerings, I would have taken the Dinty Moore beef stew hands down.
 

Eric in East County

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We have a question re: guaranteed connections for long distance trains that arrive late. During our recent trip, the tickets for our connecting trains were paid for using travel points and our LA-Chicago LD train ticket was paid for using cash. We were issued three different e-tickets with three different reservation numbers. (This caused some initial confusion when we went to check our luggage from Toledo to LA and the agent was only looking at the Toledo to Chicago e-ticket.)

Here’s our question: are guaranteed connections still honored if there are separate reservation numbers for each of the connecting trains rather than the whole trip on one reservation number?

Eric & Pat
 

zephyr17

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Unless you call Amtrak and link them, no.

If a connection is missed in on separate reservations, you are just considered a no-show and would be on your own.

It is always a good idea to put critical connections, like same day LD to LD connections at Chicago, on a single reservation for that reason. I only break up AGR/cash trips at points where I have an overnight layover. In your case, how I would have done it would have been to put Toledo-LA on one reservation, since missing that Chicago connection without a certain guarantee would have been disastrous. LA-San Diego is relatively cheap with many options if that one were missed without a guarantee.

You theoretically have the ability to link reservations. If you made all the reservations with an AGR agent, the agent very well might have linked them automatically, but I'd still verify that they were. If you made then on the website or separately with AGR and 800-USA-RAIL agents then, no, they were not linked without talking to Amtrak.

Personally, given the apparent dismal state of Amtrak IT and the diligence level of some Amtrak personnel, I would not trust the "link" between reservations to protect myself. The system is set up primarily to protect connections on one reservation. Multiple linked separate reservations is an exception case. A lifetime of experience in IT and in biggish organizations have led me never to trust exception cases both in large scale systems and in large bureaucracies. The chances of getting good results are much improved if you are able to set things up to be under the most common cases.

Never give Murphy more of an opportunity than absolutely necessary.
 
Last edited:

jis

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Having this many SWC trains running at one time raises the question as to how many train sets Amtrak has available for SWC service.
Normally five. In case of extreme delays they can scrounge together a sixth consist using cars from stabled Sunset consist in LA on certain days of the week. Of course when the delayed 3 arrives those cars are diverted to restore the Sunset consist. I suppose some similar shuffle is feasible in Chicago too if needed. But beyond a point such substitution is not possible and leads to either continued delayed operation or cancellation.
 

Eric in East County

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Unless you call Amtrak and link them, no.

If a connection is missed in on separate reservations, you are just considered a no-show and would be on your own.

It is always a good idea to put critical connections, like same day LD to LD connections at Chicago, on a single reservation for that reason. I only break up AGR/cash trips at points where I have an overnight layover. In your case, how I would have done it would have been to put Toledo-LA on one reservation, since missing that Chicago connection without a certain guarantee would have been disastrous. LA-San Diego is relatively cheap with many options if that one were missed without a guarantee.

You theoretically have the ability to link reservations. If you made all the reservations with an AGR agent, the agent very well might have linked them automatically, but I'd still verify that they were. If you made then on the website or separately with AGR and 800-USA-RAIL agents then, no, they were not linked without talking to Amtrak.

Personally, given the apparent dismal state of Amtrak IT and the diligence level of some Amtrak personnel, I would not trust the "link" between reservations to protect myself. The system is set up primarily to protect connections on one reservation. Multiple linked separate reservations is an exception case. A lifetime of experience in IT and in biggish organizations have led me never to trust exception cases both in large scale systems and in large bureaucracies. The chances of getting good results are much improved if you are able to set things up to be under the most common cases.

Never give Murphy more of an opportunity than absolutely necessary.
This is probably THE MOST VALUABLE PIECE OF INFORMATION we have yet received from one of our AU inquiries. Thank you so much for enlightening us.

E & P
 

Trogdor

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Aug 3, 2004
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5,740
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Here
Unless you call Amtrak and link them, no.

If a connection is missed in on separate reservations, you are just considered a no-show and would be on your own.

It is always a good idea to put critical connections, like same day LD to LD connections at Chicago, on a single reservation for that reason. I only break up AGR/cash trips at points where I have an overnight layover. In your case, how I would have done it would have been to put Toledo-LA on one reservation, since missing that Chicago connection without a certain guarantee would have been disastrous. LA-San Diego is relatively cheap with many options if that one were missed without a guarantee.

You theoretically have the ability to link reservations. If you made all the reservations with an AGR agent, the agent very well might have linked them automatically, but I'd still verify that they were. If you made then on the website or separately with AGR and 800-USA-RAIL agents then, no, they were not linked without talking to Amtrak.

Personally, given the apparent dismal state of Amtrak IT and the diligence level of some Amtrak personnel, I would not trust the "link" between reservations to protect myself. The system is set up primarily to protect connections on one reservation. Multiple linked separate reservations is an exception case. A lifetime of experience in IT and in biggish organizations have led me never to trust exception cases both in large scale systems and in large bureaucracies. The chances of getting good results are much improved if you are able to set things up to be under the most common cases.

Never give Murphy more of an opportunity than absolutely necessary.
There's no such thing as "linking" reservations in an Arrow sense. All it does is put a comment field into the reservation that another agent can read and manually handle later. There is no automatic connection, in a computer sense, to know that you are on a multi-train itinerary. Unless someone is looking specifically at your reservation, there wouldn't be any way for anyone to know that you are making the connection.

If I recall correctly, connections are guaranteed even on separate reservations as long as the connection itself is valid. Back in the day of paper-value tickets, they would just tell you to go to station services in Chicago and get rebooked. In some cases, they would send an agent or two out west on the westbound Chief or Zephyr, and have them hop over and meet the eastbound train and handle rebookings and hotel accommodations, etc, on the train so that when you arrived it was all set. With everything on etickets, I don't know what the current practice is. For same-reservation connections, the reticketing can be automatic, but it probably still requires an in-person visit somewhere to get the hotel voucher and taxi/bus info. If the train is really late, it's probably worth calling (if you can get through to anyone) and see what they say. The agent could at least read the text comments regarding the "linked" reservation (but again, that doesn't really do anything except give the person reading it a heads-up).

And, honestly, it's not an Amtrak-specific thing. Even on airlines, if you book a connection as separate individual trips, you're basically responsible yourself for making sure that you can get rebooked on segment B if anything happens to segment A.
 

neroden

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Feb 23, 2014
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Ithaca, NY
If I recall correctly, connections are guaranteed even on separate reservations as long as the connection itself is valid.
That is correct. From my experience, they don't actually just look through the reservations when they start rebooking people, they look through the list of customers and see who has a ticket for a connecting train!

If somehow your connecting ticket is under a different name or on a different ID, they probably wouldn't catch it, but I always had them linked to my AGR account, so they caught that I was making connections even though I always book every leg separately.
 
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